erica lewis w/ kazim ali & joshua marie wilkinson @ powell’s books

POWELL’S CITY OF BOOKS 1005 W. Burnside St. Portland, OR 97209

erica lewis’s mahogany (Wesleyan) takes its name from the dark wood prized for its durability, workability, and elegant look, and from the Diana Ross movie, whose theme song asks if what lies ahead is what you really want. This book is the third in a trilogy, and like the first two books, it is steeped in pop music. Each poem here takes its title from a line of a Diana Ross and The Supremes song, as well as songs from Diana Ross’s solo career. Short lines flow down the page like postmodern psalms, connecting dailyness to timelessness, merging the historical and the beloved through reverence for family, music, and the life we actually live. mahogany is a lament for the passing of time and unimaginable loss, and at the same time it models the daily search for joy, and the deep shine that can arise from the darkest times.

Kazim Ali is a poet, novelist, and essayist whose work explores themes of identity, migration, and the intersections of cultural and spiritual traditions. His poetry is known for its lyrical and expressive language, as well as its exploration of themes such as love, loss, and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing world. “Sukun” means serenity or calm, and a sukun is also a form of punctuation in Arabic orthography that denotes a pause over a consonant. Sukun (Wesleyan) draws a generous selection from Ali’s six previous full-length collections, and includes thirty-five new poems. It allows us to trace Ali’s passions and concerns, and take the measure of his art: the close attention to the spiritual and the visceral, and the deep language play that is both musical and plain spoken.

The debut novel by renowned poet and editor Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Trouble Finds You (Fonograf Editions) is a taut work of narrative fiction that deftly balances comedy and drama, mystery and tenderness. To say Harry Stables’s life has hit a bit of a low patch lately is an understatement. In his mid-20s, he’s been kicked out of his MFA program for fighting, his ex-girlfriend turned down his spur-of-the-moment marriage proposal, and he’s spent the last ten days in his dad’s falling-down Montana fishing cabin with his dog Greta trying to find out how his mother really died when he was a baby, something his father — now dying himself of cancer — has refused to tell either him or his sister their whole lives. On top of all this, he’s just been to a party outside Missoula where he received a nasty dog bite and where he may have been an accessory to a fatal shooting. Set against the beauty of the American West, this is a novel of many colors: a thriller, a mystery, a coming-of-age story, and a family drama.

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